By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – As seniors graduate High School and get ready for college, 30 students at North High School are getting help paying for college from a fund that Joe De Rose has helped grow.

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Joe De Rose (credit: CBS)

“I lived here. This is my home turf,” De Rose said before a scholarship awards ceremony. “I’m about community. It’s really what this is all about, the great North Denver community.”

In the early 90s, De Rose and a few other Alumni wanted to help the graduating seniors, one scholarship was established for $500. Now the fund is more than $1 million and supports 30 different scholarships.

CBS4’s Jeff Todd interviews Joe De Rose. (credit: CBS)

“We actually thought we were done, that’s how much vision we had, but it kept growing little by little,” De Rose said.

(credit: CBS)

He started out as a teacher more than 30 years ago after a career as a coffee shop owner. De Rose ended up teaching at the schools he attended as a child from elementary to middle school, and in retirement he’s again landed at North High School.

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“Since I’m not good at anything else, they kicked me upstairs. So, I have the leadership role as it were. This is a great place to come and hang out. I love hanging out with the students. I love playing chess with them. I love barbing with them,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

The scholarship fund has grown so much, students who get scholarships now have a councilor to help them transition into their first year of college. Many of the scholarships are geared toward students attending colleges in Colorado.

“It’s hard not to be attached to the hope that really is here,” De Rose said. “It’s an emotional event because North High has a lot of kids that have overcome a lot of hardships, it’s amazing!”

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Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.